A Xeni Gwet’in mountain racer was badly injured in the first race Thursday night at the Williams Lake Stampede.
Dax Setah, 21, was in second place in the mountain race when he took a hard fall at the bottom of the steep hill as the riders headed toward the track.
Setah, who is one of several Xeni mountain racers in the event, suffered a head injury and was taken away from the Stampede Grounds by ambulance to local hospital and later transported to Kamloops.
His parents, Margaret Lulua and David Setah, said Dax went into surgery at about 1:30 a.m. and was out by about 4 a.m. They were able to see him at 6 a.m.
Margaret said the surgery went well, according to the surgeon. She said her son’s fractured skull cut through an artery and was causing bleeding. During surgery doctors repaired the artery and stopped the bleeding. They also removed the right side of the skull in order to release the pressure and swelling.
Dax will be heavily sedated for the next three or four days as part of his recovery.
“Time and healing is our hope,” Margaret said in a Facebook update, which she gave the Tribune permission to use.
“He’s a tough kid and he will get through this. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.”
The Williams Lake Stampede’s mountain race is one of the highlights of the rodeo and has a long history in the community. The event is thrilling, but it is also dangerous, and only entered into by the most experienced mountain riders, who are almost always First Nations. Many riders, such as Dax, come from the community of Xeni Gwet’in in the Nemiah Valley where they round up and train some of the area’s wild horses.
The mountain riders and their communities take great pride in being a part of the traditional race, which is also run at Xeni Gwet’in and Tsi DelDel, where one man lost his life in the mountain race in recent years.